The PlayStation 4 (PS4) National Premier Leagues (NPL) 2017 Finals Series will kick off this weekend with eight of Australia’s top semi-professional clubs vying for the title.
Each club qualified for the PS4 NPL 2017 Finals Series having finished top of its respective NPL competition after the regular season, however how did each team’s season play out, and who might be the key men for each team as they battle for national honours?
Adelaide City FC (Football Federation South Australia)
Head Coach: Damian Mori
Official Website: www.adelaidecityfc.com.au
Coached by former Caltex Socceroos striker and National Soccer League great, Damian Mori, Adelaide City FC dominated this year’s PS4 NPL South Australia, winning 16 of its 22 games. In total the three-time NSL Champions amassed 50 points in the 12 team PS4 NPL SA. Unfortunately for the Zebras they couldn’t translate their league dominance into PS4 NPL SA Finals Series success. Although Mori’s men made the Grand Final, they were defeated 2-1 by Croydon Kings last Saturday. Mori’s squad features former Australian youth international and recent Hyundai A-League player Joel Allwright, while Evan Kostopoulos and Anthony Costa have also played in the Hyundai A-League with Adelaide United.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC (Football New South Wales)
Head Coach: Daniel Cummins
Official Website: www.apiatigers.com
Having made the Westfield FFA Cup 2017 Round of 16, Football New South Wales’ representatives in this year’s PS4 NPL Finals Series, APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC, are no strangers to the national stage. Daniel Cummins’ men won the PS4 NPL NSW by two points over Blacktown City FC this year, and like their opponents this weekend (Adelaide City FC) won 16 of their 22 league matches. Like Adelaide City, APIA also lost their PS4 NPL Grand Final. The Tigers – who feature former Hyundai A-League players including Ivan Necevski, Franco Parisi, David D’Apuzzo, Themba Muata-Marlow, and Brandon Lundy among their ranks – fell to Manly United on penalties last weekend after the Grand Final was locked at 0-0 at full-time.
Bayswater City SC (Football West)
Head Coach: Chris Coyne
Official Website: www.bayswatercitysc.com.au
Western Australia’s representatives in this year’s PS4 NPL Finals Series will be perennial PS4 NPL WA powerhouses Bayswater City SC. Coached by former Caltex Socceroos and Perth Glory defender, Chris Coyne, Bayswater will be looking to secure their third trophy of the season in the PS4 NPL Finals series after they secured both league and Grand Final success over recent weeks. Boasting the likes of former Hyundai A-League players Brent Griffiths, Todd Howarth, Sam Mitchinson, Borbor Sam and Andrija Jukic, Bayswater City SC have plenty of experience in their sheds and should give Westfield FFA Cup 2017 Quarter Finalists Heidelberg United FC a tough test on Sunday.
Brisbane Strikers FC (Football Queensland)
Head Coach: Owen Baker
Official Website: www.brisbanestrikers.com.au
1997 National Soccer League Champions Brisbane Strikers will represent Queensland on the national stage again this weekend when Owen Baker’s boys tackle Tasmania’s South Hobart FC in the apple isle. The Strikers scored a stunning 68 goals on their way to being crowned PS4 NPL Premiers in Queensland this year, however failed to advance to Grand Final day - Moreton Bay United FC defeated the men from Perry Park 3-1 in their semi-final in late August. Baker’s team had a number of regular contributors when it came to goals this campaign – attacker Jeremy Stewart chief among them. Stewart landed 15 goals in 22 PS4 NPL matches this season, and was ably assisted by the likes of Michael Lee (8 goals), as well as Hiroki Omori and Jake Mclean who bagged seven goals each.
Canberra Olympic FC (Capital Football)
Head Coach: Frank Cachia
Official Website: www.canberraolympic.com.au
Canberra Olympic FC will represent the nation’s capital in this year’s PS4 NPL Finals Series after they dominated their state’s PS4 NPL competition again this season. Frank Cachia’s charges lost just one match this season as they landed their seventh PS4 NPL ACT Premiership by a whopping 11 points from their closest rival. But the news was not so good for Canberra Olympic in the finals series, as they fell 2-1 to Belconnen United on Grand Final day last weekend. In preparation for their PS4 NPL Finals Series clash this weekend, Canberra Olympic hosted the Hyundai A-League’s Newcastle Jets in Canberra recently. A friendly clash against the Jets was perhaps apt, given their opponents in this weekend’s Elimination Finals will be Edgeworth Eagles FC who hail from the Hunter Valley.
Edgeworth Eagles FC (Northern New South Wales Football)
Head Coach: Damian Zane
Official Website: www.edgewortheaglesfc.com.au
Damian Zane’s Edgeworth Eagles FC will be hungry to go one better in this year’s PS4 NPL Finals Series after they made it all the way to last year’s Grand Final against Sydney United 58 FC. Spearheaded by former Hyundai A-League Golden Boot winner Daniel McBreen, the Eagles – who lost their recent PS4 NPL NNSW Grand Final 2-0 to Lambton Jaffas FC – will be hoping to count on their defence remaining as tight as it was throughout their league season throughout the national playoffs. In fact, Zane’s men conceded just 14 times in 20 matches throughout the PS4 NPL NNSW regular season, ensuring their defence was by far the stingiest in the ever-improving Northern NSW competition. While McBreen is Edgeworth’s talisman, keep an eye out for Englishman Kieran Sanders, as well as the fleet footed Brody Taylor, in attack.
Heidelberg United FC (Football Federation Victoria)
Head Coach: George Katsakis
Official Website: www.hufc.com.au
George Katsakis’ Heidelberg United FC will be looking to extend on their impressive 2017 campaign in the PS4 NPL Finals Series. Not only did the Bergers claim the PS4 NPL Victoria Premiership by an impressive six points over their nearest rivals in 2017, at the time of writing the Olympic Village based side was still in the running to win this year’s Westfield FFA Cup. Heidelberg United FC, who lost the PS4 NPL Victoria Grand Final in extra time against Bentleigh Greens last weekend, host Hyundai A-League outfit Adelaide United in the FFA Cup Quarter Finals on Wednesday evening, having already eliminated Perth Glory and Sydney United 58 FC from that competition. Striker Ken Athiu – who has scored a stunning 25 goals in all competitions this campaign – could enhance his burgeoning reputation in the PS4 NPL Finals Series, while the Hyundai A-League experience of Adrian Zahra and Steven Pace will undoubtedly be useful for Katsakis’ trophy hunters.
South Hobart FC (Football Federation Tasmania)
Head Coach: Ken Morton
Official Website: www.southhobartfc.com
Ken Morton’s South Hobart FC dominated the PS4 NPL in Tasmania this season, winning the league by 12 points and scoring a league high 87 goals in the process. The team from the apple isle will enjoy home ground advantage this weekend at Darcy Street when Queensland’s Brisbane Strikers journey across the Bass Strait. South Hobart has one of the youngest squads in this year’s PS4 NPL Finals Series, and while they managed plenty of goals on their way to the league and league cup double in Tasmania this season, Morton’s men rarely rely on just one man to get them their goals. Indeed, Nicholas Morton, Benjamin Hamlett, Alex Walter, Jack Turner and Darcy Hall all scored nine goals or better in the PS4 NPL Tasmania this year.